Aug 06,2020

Lyme borreliosis and tick – born encephalitis – a few words about ticks

Ticks are a common problem during summer holiday, especially while being near forests and meadows. You can even catch them in parks and gardens. Since children tend to spend more time outdoors during summer, the risk of them catching a tick increases significantly.

Ticks are active in temperature above 7 degrees of Celsius, which means “tick season’’ in Poland last from spring till late autumn. Activities which increase the risk of catching them are: cycling, walking through forest, camping, picking mushrooms or berries.

Why should you be concerned about ticks?

They can carry many bacteria and viruses. The most important illnesses caused by them in our climate are tick- born encephalitis and Lyme borreliosis.

· tick- born encephalitis- is a disease caused by a virus, which lives in tick’s saliva. It penetrates our skin in the moment the tick bites you so the time which tick spends in your body doesn’t increase the risk of catching the illness. There are two stages of tick- born encephalitis. The first one is similar to a flu. The symptoms include: fever, headache and arthralgia. Some people recover after this stage, but some of them develop the second one. It’s symptoms, which derive from central nervous system, are loss of consciousness, speech disorders, problems with breathing, paralysis. Children usually have milder symptoms, but they should not be underestimated. The consequences of the infection can be serious and reveal after 3-5 years.

We don’t have a cure for tick- born encephalitis. We can only moderate symptoms (fever and pain) and try preventing catching the disease. The best way to protect yourself is vaccination. It is really effective and is advised for people who live in endemic areas ( in Poland they are: Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship, Podlaskie Voivodeship and Lublin Province. )

· Lyme borreliosis is caused by bacteria, which live in tick’s bowel. They need some time to penetrate into the tick’s mouth and then the human body. The longer the thick is in the human body, the bigger risk of Lyme borreliosis. The first symptoms of illness occur after about a week up to a month. They are, like the first stage of tick- born encephalitis, similar to a flu. The most characteristic symptom is erythema migrans- a red halo with a bright area in the middle. The halo increases during the illness. It’s characteristic, but lack of it doesn’t mean that you are not ill.

In comparison to tick born encephalitis we have a treatment for Lyme borreliosis. Recovering from the disease doesn’t give you resistance to it ( you can be ill more than once).

What can you do to minimize the risk of catching the illness?

Ticks are basically everywhere. You can catch one even during a walk through the park or doing something in your garden. The most important thing (which) you can do to prevent Lyme borreliosis is scoping your body and skin on your head after you come back home. The best way to prevent yourself from the tick- born encephalitis is vaccination. Additionally, you can use insect repellents.

What to do in case of having a tick in your skin? How to remove the tick?

There are many myths about removing ticks:  lubricating with olive oil or butter, wringing, burning, pulling with bare hands or with a needle… Not only are they incorrect, but can also be harmful for one’s health.

Removing tick step by step:

1. Don’ t delay it. It’s an easy, hygienic procedure which doesn’t require doctor’s help. In most cases you can do it by yourself.

2. Disinfect the area near to the tick with soap or disinfectant like octenisept.

3. Grab the tick with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pull it up quickly.

4. Disinfect the wound and observe it for a few weeks.

5. Contact the doctor immediately if you observe symptoms like: high fever, nausea, severe headaches, loss of sensation or erythema migrans.

If you don’t succeed in removing the whole tick by the first time, don’t worry. If the remaining part is big enough try to remove it with tweezers. If it’s too small and you are not able to do it just leave it in the wound. The newest research shows that the skin clears up itself and the remaining part doesn’t increase the risk of lime borreliosis.

In short:

· You can catch a tick basically everywhere.

· After coming back home from a forest or a meadow you should thoroughly scope yourself.

· After removing the tick you should observe  yourself for flu like symptoms or erythema migrans. If you observe them contact your doctor immediately.

· Vaccination is the best way to prevent the tick- born encephalitis.


Author:  Alicja Jodczyk